As leader of the cultish Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, EUROS CHILDS always stood out as a musical maverick, and his astonishingly productive career post-Gorky’s has served to cement Childs’ reputation as a boundary pusher. The warped psych folk of Gorky’s assorted past – including what John Cale proclaimed to be his “favourite album ever” in Patio – was merely a staring point of constant sonic wanderings for Childs as a solo artist. Delve in to the fourteen or so records he’s appeared on aside from the Gorky’s material and you will find a breadth of content and innovation to startle all but the most fertile minds. From the eccentric, kaleidoscopic brew of Jonny (with Norman Blake) to the darkly off-kilter breeziness of Cousins (with Meilyr Jones), Childs has exhibited his flair for marrying his own ideals up with likeminded collaborators. Each new solo release, too, has been marked with a slightly new direction to Childs’ oeuvre, taking in pretty much every sonic influence from pastoral psych to neo pop ballads, and even electronica.
So, when it was announced that Euros Childs was to swing by our patch while touring the release of new album Summer Special we understandably got a little excited. We caught up with him for a few swift words in the quiet moments before setting out on tour, and this is what he had to say…
Bido Lito!: Hi Euros, what are you up to at the moment?
Euros Childs: Making sure everything’s ready for the tour. Washing clothes, that sort of thing…
BL!: Summer Special is your eighth solo album in just over six years (including an EP and a live album): you must find it easier to work alone than with a band then, given that rate of productivity?
EC: I wouldn’t say easier. One the reasons for the volume of records that I’m not playing live as often as I did in the past, which has given me more time to write and record.
BL!: I suppose the freedom of releasing everything yourself through [own label] National Elf is also a massive contributing factor to this.
EC: Yes, it could be tough to persuade a label to finance two albums by the same artist in a year. The good thing about being the label is I can say yes to everything, even if it’s not going to make any money. On the artistic front, things are much as they were. I’ve been lucky not to have anyone meddle in that side of things, solo or with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.
BL!: Summer Special clocks in at just over 30 minutes – is that a sign that you’re pretty well versed now in crafting a suite of songs to capture your desired mood?
EC: When I write a song it’s only after I see its length. I never stick on a couple of minutes just to make it longer. A lot of early rock ‘n’ roll is around the two minute mark. That’s good enough for me.
BL!: The feeling on this album is largely upbeat and carefree, and possibly a little more conventional than your previous (solo) albums. Would you agree? And did a Gilbert O’Sullivan influence really play a heavy role in the run up to recording it?
EC: Firstly on the Gilbert O’Sullivan front… Not really, if I’m being honest. Although I have started to Gilbert O’Sullivan in the last couple of years. Saying that, Good Feeling might have a bit of Gilbert in there!
I suppose that Summer Special is more conventional in the sense that the songs have verses and choruses and poppier in style than some of the other. The songs were written over a long period of time, 2007-2011. I collected the songs as I went along and waited until I’d collected enough songs to make a strong enough album. There are songs on Summer Special that wouldn’t have fitted on an album like Face Dripping (which was mostly instrumentals using synthesizers) or Son Of Euro Child.
I don’t have one approach to songwriting, hence the differing styles in albums.
BL!: Are you keen to carry on building a collection of work with your albums that reflects your varied musical interests?
EC: Not particularly. I’m just recording the album that I want to make at a particular time. It would boring to release five similar albums in succession. Other artists do that I lose interest after a while.
BL!: How important is it that you collaborate with people you know well in the writing recording process (Meilyr Jones and your sister Megan)? Do you find it easier, or more constructive, bouncing ideas off them? Or do you do all the compositions yourself?
EC: With the Cousins and Jonny albums it was fun to sit down in a room and come up with ideas with Meilyr (for Cousins) and Norman Blake (for Jonny). There’s a nice sense of occasion to collaborating, because you have to meet up to make it happen. Writing on my own is different, it’s a day to day thing.